Nov 14 2012
Alastair Cook is determined to be true to himself when he takes on the biggest job of his life on Thursday, that of England Test captain.
Cook's challenges are manifold as England seek to win a series in India for the first time in almost 30 years. He must lead from the front to try to ensure requisite totals, in a taxing and alien environment. He must select and deploy his bowlers to take 20 wickets, and of course, there is the Kevin Pietersen conundrum.
Cook has already addressed all these issues publicly, on a tour already three weeks old since England set off for India, via Dubai. But on Thursday, in the first of four Tests in Ahmedabad, his actions will have to speak louder than all those press-conference pronouncements. Cook said: "I'm just going to try to do the best job I can, for however long I'm lucky enough to do it."
He added: "You can't change who you are, the type of bloke you are, and you've got to be authentic to who you are."
Cook knows, through common sense and personal experience as England's one-day international captain, that there are adjustments to be made once you find yourself in charge.
"It clearly does change things in the dressing room," he added. "When you're in a position of responsibility you think about things in a slightly different way and have different things on your agenda. But I hope I don't change.
"I feel a mixture of everything. Obviously, I'm a bit excited about what's going to happen, and a little bit nervous, but the overwhelming emotion is that I am very proud to be leading England."
Cook is clearly grateful to have team director Andy Flower on his side, adding: "One of his best qualities is he's very, very strong-willed and knows what he wants. The players are conscious that there are no grey areas."
England (from): AN Cook (Captain), NRD Compton, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, SR Patel, MJ Prior (wkt), TT Bresnan, SCJ Broad, GP Swann, JM Anderson, MS Panesar.
India (from): MS Dhoni (Captain, wkt), G Gambhir, V Sehwag, CA Pujara, SR Tendulkar, V Kohli, Y Singh, R Ashwin, Z Khan, PP Ojha, UT Yadav, H Singh.